Amsterdam - Asmara - May 14 and 15 2008
The arrival at Asmara
International Airport is as usual: an entry card to fill in in the plane,
a short walk from the plane to the terminal. Check, check, double check of
the passport. A currency declaration form has to be filled. A third
passport and visa check. And a (sometimes thorough) luggage check for
electronics. Efficient, strict, and friendly.
Outside the airport perimeter
a row of parked cars, trucks, minibuses and waiting families and friends,
some with flowers. There is happiness, kisses and tears of joy, or tears
of sorrow for those who come for a funeral.
Five taxi's are waiting for a
good deal. 300 Nakfa for a transfer to the hotel. Luwam is at the airport
to bring me to her fathers house, a ground +2 Italian style villa build in
the early 1930's, not far from Cinema Roma.
May 16 will be the kick of of
the one week celebration of Eritrea's 17th Independence Day. So my flight
to Asmara on May 14 is well timed to allow for a few days to make my
agenda, and find the necessary invitations for the cultural shows in Bahti
Meskerem, cultural events at the Cinema Odeon, and the official
celebration in Asmara Stadium on May 24.
There is no help for the non
experienced visitor, no ticketing counter. As a regular visitor, I have my local network of
family, tourism service providers, and of course, some of the ministries
and other authorities, for some assistence. But still I have to do a lot of work to make my
program for the next three weeks.
I am not paid, or even invited to join
the Independence Day festivities, as some Ethiopian sources are
suggesting. I am a tourist and a hobbyist, I love the country and its
people, and it is commitment to their faith and inspiring e-mail feedback
from Eritreans all over the world that fuel the drive to maintain these
Eritrean information pages.
Walking in the Expo area,
searching for the office of the National Holiday Coordinating Committee, I
hear loud music coming from the Expo Hall. It is a rehearsal of a group of
students directed by Chinese choreographers and their Eritrean
counterparts. One of the many preparations for the upcoming celebrations. I
am welcome to watch the girls and boys practice their dances.
My temporary residence -
Semaetat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Ministry of Trade and
Industry - Semaetat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Nacfa House - Semaetat
Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Practicing for the show on Bahti
Meskeren - Expo Hall Asmara Eritrea.
Roof terrace - Banifer
Restaurant - Expo grounds Asmara Eritrea.
Freweyni's coffee ceremony -
Yodit and Yerusalem - Asmara
Decorating the shop window -
Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Owner of Wikianos
Supermarket - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Banifer Restaurant - Expo
grounds Asmara Eritrea.